The need to study versus the desire to party amongst loud neighbors is age-old battle of apartment living. A little noise is to be expected among those living away from home for the first time, but if your neighbors are being continually inconsiderate, there are legal steps you can take to remedy the situation.
1) The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment
The first step is always to talk to your neighbors politely. Don’t escalate the situation by screaming at your neighbors, as many incidents are caused simply by their ignorance of how audible they are to everyone else.
If the neighbors refuse to respond, then the next step is to go to the landlord. Check your lease to see if there is any language in it about tenants being required to respect the “noise ordinance” rights of others on the property. Simply let the landlord know that the neighbor is violating these terms and you would like them to do something about it.
The one time the police should definitely be called is if you hear sounds of violence. A couple arguing loudly is not illegal, but shouting accompanied by screams and the sound of things breaking or furniture being tipped over could indicate domestic abuse or assault.
2) Check Local Noise Ordinances
In addition to rental law, there are also usually more general laws about making excessive noise in each municipality. These laws will differ in each area, but they generally establish a decibel level that people cannot exceed without a special permit, and they also establish “quiet hours” during which the level of noise must be reduced.
If you feel that the situation is going to escalate to needing to call the police or go to court, it’s a good idea to document noise incidents. You can do this with a combination of a video recorder and a decibel meter while the noise is taking place. Decibel meters are readily found at electronics and hardware stores and are affordable.
3) Provide A Written Warning
If the landlord has failed to act, you are within your rights to provide your own written warning to the noisy party so long as you can demonstrate that they are clearly violating their lease terms or the law. This formal warning should use neutral language and not be hostile, but should document all the incidents of noise violation and ask the neighbor politely to cease them. It is up to you whether you declare your intentions should they not cease them, but some possible actions can include calling the police, taking them to small claims court or filing a complaint with the homeowner’s association where applicable.
If you do go with a written warning, it is important to keep a copy for yourself, and to also provide the landlord with a copy should you intend to go to court if the problem is not resolved.
Do you have any advice for dealing with noisy neighbors? Let us know about your experiences in the comment section below.